Islamic State and its targets

Despite their much-publicised fixation on the destruction of the West, Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims of Islamic State and it has deliberately targeted Shias (including civilians) since it was established in 2002.

Christians who do not resist Islamic State are, in theory, not executed, so long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, to acknowledge their subjugation. In reality, however, Christians are often attacked and killed by Islamic State fighters.

Other religious groups, however, have no such rights, and are routinely killed or enslaved– a approach that often becomes a form of ‘ethnic’ cleansing. So-called ‘pagan’ groups are particular targets, for example the Yazidis, a community in northern Iraq with beliefs that are strongly influenced by pre-Islamic faiths. The Islamic State set out to exterminate the Yazidis and were only stopped from doing so by foreign military intervention at the last moment.